These colorful rocks are more than just your garden variety types of stones. They were actually formed literally billions of years ago, when the North American continent began to split because of molten rocks shifting deep beneath the surface of the ground. Water vapor and carbon dioxide became trapped in areas of these lava flows, forming the colorful rocks we now call agates. Their beautiful and unique striped design is what makes them so treasured.
There are two ways to hunt for agates in the Lake Superior area. The first is to scuba dive in Lake Superior for these gemstones. A two hour non-certification class is offered in Copper Harbor and the class covers the location and identification of Lake Superior Agates. Air is furnished for this one tank dive class. Many of the better quality of agates are found on the sand bars in Lake Superior. The water is quite cold and can be very cloudy at times so always use the buddy system when diving.
The second way to hunt for agates is to search the lake shore of Lake Superior and nearby lakes. Hunting for Lake Superior agates isn't as easy as you might think. Their unique banding usually becomes more visible when the rocks are polished and cut a little bit, and not always visible to the naked eye. Prospectors often need to look for other clues when searching for agates. Most have a glossy or waxy appearance and a pitted texture. They also seem to have a glow or translucence on sunny days, usually because of the quartz deposit on the rocks. A brighter day is usually better for hunting than a cloudy one.
The best way to treat agates is by tumbling. This is when the rocks are put into a large vat with polishing grit and tumbled for several days until they are shiny and smooth. Usually areas where you can find Lake Superior agates have places that will do this for you, for a small fee. They may also have many specimens available that have been found by others and that you can purchase for your own. The larger ones are cut with diamond slabs until they're shiny and then are set in pieces of jewelry, belt buckles, and so on.
You don't need to be in Minnesota to find Lake Superior agates. Any waters that empty into Lake Superior will have deposits along the banks of their rivers and streams; up and down the Mississippi River is a great hunting ground for Lake Superior agates. Hikers, campers, and just casual beach goers have found a wealth of beautiful gemstones in many of these areas.
Treasure hunting takes on all forms these days; you can look for coins, shipwrecks, and even valuable rocks and gemstones. For a great vacation activity, why not try hunting for Lake Superior agates? They make great souvenirs for anyone.
Happy Treasure Hunting.
David Cowley has created numerous articles on Treasure Hunting. He has also created a Web Site dedicated to Treasure Hunting. Visit Treasure Hunting.
Photo credit Superioragates.com